WRC leader Thierry Neuville has signed a new three-year deal to stay at Hyundai Motorsport until the end of 2021.
The Belgian is the first of a host of out-of-contract drivers to commit his future and Wednesday’s announcement came a month after team principal Michel Nandan indicated the two parties were close to extending their partnership, WRC.com reported.
Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul have claimed nine wins, including Kennards Hire Rally Australia last year, since they joined the Korean manufacturer in 2014. They currently top the WRC standings from five-time champion Sébastien Ogier ahead of this weekend’s Rally Turkey.
The 30-year-old said it had always been his target to build continuity for his career by staying with the squad.
“Since 2014 we have shared many special moments together, as well as working through some more difficult times. Our debut victory together in 2014 remains a highlight, and we have since taken more wins together.
“There is a fantastic family atmosphere and I get on very well with my teammates. This is very important to me. Alongside Nicolas, who has played a key role in our successes, our focus is on completing this current season in the strongest way possible, aiming to secure the titles,” he added.
Nandan said Neuville and Gilsoul were outstanding ambassadors for Hyundai on the global motorsport stage.
“They have both played a crucial role in building up the Hyundai Motorsport WRC programme over the past five years, helping us to many important milestones along the way from our maiden victory in Germany 2014 right up to our current championship battle.
“As we build towards an exciting conclusion to this year’s WRC, with drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships still delicately poised, it is important for us that we can already look towards 2019 and beyond,” Nandan added.